Scandinavian woman 'forced to withdraw rape claim' in case similar to British teen's Cyprus ordeal

Nick Squires
The British woman is led into a courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus - AFP

A Scandinavian woman says she was forced by Cypriot police to withdraw a rape claim or face arrest, in a striking parallel to the case of a British teenager who was allegedly gang raped on the Mediterranean island.

The Scandinavian woman said police officers questioned her aggressively for several hours after she was raped by two men outside a nightclub.

The officers accused her of lying and said that if she did not withdraw the rape claim they would arrest her and send her to prison.

Her account bears striking similarities to the alleged treatment of a British teenager who was convicted last week of lying about being gang-raped by Israeli tourists in the resort town of Ayia Napa.

She made the initial complaint in July but 10 days later, after being questioned without a lawyer for eight hours in a police station, signed a retraction statement.

The alleged gang rape of the British teenager happened in the resort of Ayia Napa Credit: AFP

She faces sentencing on Tuesday  and could be jailed for up to a year and fined 1,700 euro (£1,500) at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni.

The 19-year-old British woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the trial that officers threatened to arrest her and her friends unless she retracted the claims of being gang raped by a group of young Israeli men.

After reading about the Ayia Napa case, the Scandinavian woman decided to come forward with her account of similar treatment at the hands of the Cypriot police 20 years ago.

It is the first time she has spoken publicly of the assault and has previously only discussed it with her doctor and her husband.

Now aged 43, she was 21 when she met the men in a nightclub in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, in January 1998.

They offered to give her a lift to her hotel. Instead, they raped her in a car park. “I fought for my life and thought I was going to die,” she told The Telegraph.

She went to the nearest police station to report the rape and was taken to a hospital for an examination.

She was then taken to a police station for questioning. “The main investigator was extremely brutal and aggressive. I was in big shock so I had some difficulties remembering details.

“This made him very angry. He then started accusing me of making the whole story up to receive money from my insurance company.”

The same allegation was made by in court by Cypriot police against the British woman.

Both alleged victims said they were mystified by the accusation because they did not think that holiday insurance covered rape and had no intention of claiming any financial compensation.

“I was very afraid and felt trapped in the room with them. They treated me as a big criminal. They kept me in the police station for many hours. They told me that if I didn’t withdraw the rape allegation they would arrest me and send me to prison. So I did and they let me go,” said the Scandinavian woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

She said she was still deeply affected by the ordeal and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – just like the British teenager who is on trial. “The treatment I received from police was terrible,” she said.

Michael Polak, a British lawyer representing the teenager in the trial Credit: AFP

Michael Polak, a British lawyer representing the British woman, told The Telegraph: “This case bears remarkable similarities to the teenager’s case. It raises serious questions about the investigation of rape in Cyprus and the treatment of rape complainants there.”

In a report in 1998, a Norwegian newspaper claimed that police on the island routinely dismissed rape claims, treating the victims as liars.

The report quoted a Norwegian tour operator who said that “police never take rape claims seriously. All such claims are treated as false.”

“Police have a theory that tourists make such allegations so they can claim expenses for their holiday,” the report said.

A senior Cyprus police officer was quoted as saying: "Why rape when it's so easy to find somebody to have sex with?"